Friday, August 31, 2018

Progress Check In

After my bummer of a long run, I was a little down on myself. Running does that sometimes, but I'm thankful it happened on a training run vs. a race. When this happens, instead of dwelling on the bummer, I try to make myself focus on progress instead.

So Sunday, while procrastinating my recovery run in the blazing heat and humidity, while enjoying a relaxing afternoon, I decided to pick up my training log from last year to see where I was at. Last summer was the first time in years that I really felt like my training was coming together. I was running some consistent miles, including some bigger weekly mileage. I was staying consistent-ish with my weekly long runs, and was having success adding in some speed work here and there. Last summer I was finally having some fun with training.

I took a look at my long runs to start. Most of them were in the 10:40+ pace range, with the exception of some that had race pace finishes. These long runs were half the distance of my long runs this summer. And my stinker of a 20 miler? Was a 10:20 pace. Whoa. Ok. That's some much needed perspective check.

Then I took a look at my tempo workouts. Last summer my tempo goal paces were 9-9:20 pace. That was a pretty big jump up from the spring, and I was really proud of that. Now this summer, that's my goal marathon pace. What I would shoot to do for 20-40 minutes at a time last year, I'm now (hopefully) in shape to do for ~4 hours. That blows my mind.

So I would highly recommend that any time you're feeling a little ho hum about a performance, to take a few minutes to look at where you are compared to where you were (just avoid looking at those years where all of your PRs live, because that's a different comparison trap altogether :P).

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Twin Cities Marathon Training Week 9

Monday Planned: Med-long 12 miles
Monday Actual

Tuesday Planned: Recovery 5 miles with 6x100
Tuesday Actual: Rest day.

Wednesday Planned VO2 Max 8 miles 5x600 @ 5k
Wednesday Actual: 4 miles of recovery at the 605 Group run, 60 minute yoga class, and then 4 miles at the track with the workout. The recovery miles were not nearly recovery enough. Oops. But the speed work at the track was on FIRE. Fastest splits in a really long time.

Thursday Planned Rest
Thursday Actual: 60 min POWER session.

Friday Planned: Recovery 4 miles
Friday Actual: 4 Recovery miles at the coffee run.

Saturday Planned: Long run 20 miles
Saturday Actual: We ran the bike loop + some extra mileage to hit a bathroom and a gas station for emergency fuel. It was... okay. My legs felt heavy and rough for the whole damn thing. 

Sunday Planned: Rest
Sunday Actual
Recovery 5 miles with Kyle on the bike keeping me company. Hit 900 miles for the year!!

Total Mileage Planned: 49 miles
Total Mileage Actual:  49.13 miles

Monday, August 27, 2018

They Can't All be Unicorn Long Runs

I've had a plan to run the Sioux Falls loop/circuit since 605 Running Co. announced the challenge about it over a year ago. You start at the store, run the loop in either direction, and end back at the store, logging 19.3 miles and earning a free t-shirt from the store. Toni and I contemplated doing it as a fun run last fall but ultimately decided that her first time running that far should be for a greater purpose, like marathon training.

Jessica and I had made a tentative plan to do it together as we realized we had 20 miles falling on the same day in our training plans. Melissa had a long run cut short last weekend, so she was wanting to go longer than planned this weekend, and her BRF wanted to join us. A nice fun little crew of gals to start the day. I was excited!

We met at 6:05 am at 605, and got ready to take off. A few of us were concerned about the lack of bathrooms the direction we were going so we opted to take our first bathroom stop about 15 minutes into the run. My legs felt pretty heavy, but we also started in the hillier direction. Last weekend's 18 also started with heavy legs, and then they felt great, so I was optimistic.

We took turns running in groups of two, switching up the conversation, and the leaders, and the miles were really clicking by. There were a couple I was shocked about when they were done because I felt like we just started them. I started paying closer attention to my watch and panicked a bit when I was seeing sub 10 paces. I knew it was going to heat up, and I like to start a bit more conservatively in hopes that I can pick it up at the end. Eeps.

We had to make another bathroom stop because my stomach was not wanting to participate in the run. And then I kind of just stopped talking. We were at mile 9.8; not even to the halfway point. Eeps. My body just felt heavy and I had all sorts of aches and pains. When I would catch a glimpse of my shadow's form I just looked sloppy. My legs could still feel my speed session from Wednesday and my POWER class from Thursday night. Blech.

I was still optimistic that I would be able to pick it up the last 5 as that's usually where my brain clicks into "we're almost done! YAYZIES!" mode. Spoiler alert: it didn't. By the time we hit the last 3 miles, we were all ready to be done, and just started running at our own paces. When I had to fill up for water the last time, a couple of the girls wanted to keep going since it felt so uncomfortable to stop and start.

I was starving, and wished that I had stuck to my GU every 4 plan instead of trying for every 5. With 1.8 to go I mentioned to Jessica that I wish I had some sport beans or something to eat, and like a little angel sent from above, she had some. I knew if I took a GU this late, I wouldn't even feel it until I was done. I'm not sure that the sport beans really gave me anything extra, but mentally they did. We put our heads down and just ran. Slowly, but surely.

Since we had a few out and back extras for bathrooms and a convenience store stop for ice and fuel, we were at 20 with about a half mile to go to the store. You best believe I stopped my watch and walked in the final .5 miles. I had announced very early in the run that I was not running a step further than 20 today.

I was so happy to be done but I was really bummed with how the 20 mile went. But in perspective, I ran 20 miles at the end of 3 really really high mileage weeks. It is expected that my legs feel like garbage. Running 3+ hours when you feel that cruddy is some of the best mental training you can do. And marathons are SO MENTAL. It was a reminder that I need to stick to *my* plan even when I'm running with others. I'm more than grateful for the company on that 20 miles, but I suspect if I had kept my pace in check in those early miles, I would've felt stronger at the end.

Regardless, I'm excited for a much needed cutback week with a scheduled massage. My body has earned it!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Shower Steak

A week and a half ago I came home from a run and Kyle was sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner. A grilled steak and some corn on the cob. We rarely eat together, because he's a typical midwest kind of guy who loves his meat and potatoes. I rarely eat meat, and like to eat healthier or else gorge on pizza or nachos. It's called balance, I think.

My run was terrible, and I was exhausted after a decent build up in mileage, a cruddy solo run, and a long day of work. Kyle asked if I wanted a bite of steak. To be nice I said sure. Despite me not liking meat, he constantly wants me to try some dead animal that he's killed or purchased to be killed, and cooked to see if he'll get my approval. It's weird, but it's his thing. Whatever.

Guys. This was the most delicious bite of food I've eaten in a long time.

He asked if I wanted another bite and was shocked when I said I did.

I told him I desperately needed to shower, because I was about 42 minutes away from falling asleep for the night, and he asked if I wanted him to save me some of the steak. Sure.

I got in the shower, and a few minutes later I heard some shuffling around in the hallway. Surely it was just Ollie coming to sit by the shower and keep me company, per usual. Nope. It was Kyle. With a forkful of steak. He continued to travel up and down the stairs one bite of steak at a time. I ate more steak in that shower than I have in my entire life, cumulatively.

The last piece he brought me was so bloody I thought for sure I'd have to spit it out. Nope. It was the most delicious bite of all. What in the world?!?

I have hated meat as long as I can remember. I've always been able to taste the blood in meat and it just grosses me out. I also get pretty grossed out by the texture of most meat. But apparently when I'm running #allthemiles, my body needs some extra animal protein. I'm guessing that's why the extra bloody piece tasted so good.

I see your shower beer, and I raise you a shower steak.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Twin Cities Marathon Training Week 8

Monday Planned: LT 11 miles with 7 @ 15k-HM pace
Monday Actual: 11 miles mid-long. I was optimistic that maybe the forecasted heat wave wouldn't be as bad and we'd get in the tempo miles. And then the temps just kept creeping up and creeping up. 95 degree heat index after work, no thank you. I think 11 miles will be just fine at whatever pace I can survive at. Thanks.

Tuesday Planned: Rest
Tuesday Actual: Rest + recovery. Foam rolling and 30 minutes in the recovery boots.

Wednesday Planned Med-long 10 miles
Wednesday Actual
Med-long 10 miles. I had hoped to do my 7 tempo miles in this run and recruited Melissa to join me. I started the warm up and my HR was in the 160s-170s. I felt like I was gasping for air and couldn't breathe. I stopped to see if it would come down, but it wouldn't. When I met up with Melissa I let her know I would just need to take it easy. Luckily after chugging a couple of bottles of water, it finally settled down to normal. I guess I was just really dehydrated. yikes. Also morning POWER for 60 minutes.

Thursday Planned Recovery 4 miles
Thursday Actual: Recovery 4 miles but not without a pretty significant amount of time procrastinating in my car in the heat. For some reason, these short runs are the hardest ones for me to get going on. Recovery runs are so great for you, but mentally, I just wanted to go home and go to bed. I listened to Kara Goucher on Carrie Tolefson's podcast, and I felt like I was running with them, which helped immensely. I also played the game of how low I could keep my HR so that I felt ok for my LR just a few short hours later.

Friday Planned: Long 18 miles
Friday Actual: Long run 18 miles. I started with the coffee run gals and had company for the first 2.5 miles.   I wasn't excited to do a mostly solo long run, but knew it was good for me to do mentally. About 1.5 miles from my turn around I stopped for water and a bathroom break, and I encountered a really sketchy gentleman, so I gave him a stare down to let him know I was aware of his presence and as soon as a dude runner came up heading in the opposite direction I jumped in and hauled booty along with him. I ran into a runner friend a mile later and warned her about stopping for water or a bathroom break, and she opted to turn around and run with me for a bit. Those miles flew by, and the quicker pace helped shake out my legs. When she left me, the remaining miles flew by. This was one of the strongest long runs I've ever had.

Saturday Planned: Rest
Saturday Actual: Rest. Sweet sweet rest.

Sunday Planned: Recovery 4 Miles
Sunday Actual: 4 miles of recovery. My stomach felt like crap after eating a cupcake (oops) so I probably deserved it but, bleh.

Total Mileage Planned: 47 miles

Total Mileage Actual:  47.06 miles

Monday, August 20, 2018

Ireland Dream Trip

I tend to plan my vacations around running. Marathons, half marathons, pretty much any time I'm getting on an airplane there's a race involved. I've recently become obsessed with the Rogue Running podcast. One day I was looking around on their website, and stumbled on to the Rogue Expeditions they put on. Running vacations to amazing locations with other runners. Where do I sign??

There were so many locations that looked amazing, but I was most drawn to the one in Ireland next August. English speaking is a huge plus, especially as it'll be my first international traveling experience. Also elevation that I'm used to (vs. Morocco that looks beautiful but I don't think I'd even be able to exist at that altitude, let alone run! Plus the trip would fall over the third anniversary of my mom passing away. It'd be a nice way to honor her and celebrate her instead of moping around being sad and missing her.

So I am pinching every single penny possible to make this dream a reality. Who's coming with me?!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Running Without My BRF

Let me tell you about my best (running) friend.....

I'm sure you've noticed lately that my post-run selfies are missing a very important person: my BRF. Sadly, most of my marathon training thus far has been done without my BRF, Toni. I was so excited to train for a marathon with her but life happens, right? She has a super exciting opportunity not here (insert the crying emoji here, please) so I've been without my BRF.

It's crazy to think how close you can get with someone just through running all of the miles together. I joke that running with someone is like taking a shot of truth serum beforehand, because I end up just baring my soul on long runs with people. So many of our runs together were like free therapy sessions. In the course of all of our miles, we had 3 out of 4 parents diagnosed with cancer. We lost two parents. Work drama, life drama, all of the drama. All of the happy things, new jobs! New dogs! SO MANY PRS!! So many hard miles, so many miles that were full on unicorn runs.

Running best friends are just the best things on this planet, and I really hope you have the chance to find yours, random internet readers.

I'm so sad to not be able to spend 30-50 miles with my BRF each week. There are honestly some weeks that I would spend more quality time with Toni than I would my own husband. Despite being so sad, I'm so thankful that she entered my life when she did. I met Toni a couple of months before my mom died, shortly before our family had the hospice conversation, knowing my mom's cancer had spread and it was only a matter of time before her body shut down. Running became my coping mechanism to deal with my grief, grief that I was struggling with from the time my mom was diagnosed with an incurable, fast moving cancer, that was essentially a death sentence. Having someone in my life who would just be there, to go for a run, or a walk, no matter how far, no matter how slow (we had to go sooo slooooowwwww), no matter how many times I'd have to stop because I'd get all weepy.

All the love and happiness to my BRF on her next journey in life. And I assure you all, we'll still manage to wear matching outfits on our runs even when we're not together. :)